Martha Jernigan Tyler

Memoirs of Mrs. Martha Tyler. Mrs. Tyler died in 1927 at age 87, and was the last survivor of Ft. Gatlin.

My father was Capt. Aaron Jernigan, a brave soldier. Father moved to Florida in 1843, bringing his cattle, an old white gentleman and some Negroes. The following January he moved mother and us children down. We had 700 head of cattle.
Our nearest neighbors were at Fort Reed, which was a mile from Sanford. My father settled on a place two miles and a half south of Orlando.

Well we were again among the Indians – but we had the fat of the land. Deer were fat and plentiful. Father brought home some fine fat deer at one time, and another time five big wild turkeys. I have seen mother have a large dishpan full of wild turkey breasts dried. Fish were plentiful. We raised sweet potatoes and sugar cane. One time we made 23 barrels of sugar besides the syrup. We raised corn, cotton, pumpkin, watermelon and muskmelon. We killed a beef every two weeks and the cattle were always fat. We put this fat up like lard. We would get 48 to 50 pounds out of every beef we killed.

A man came from Apopka one day and wanted a beef father had penned. Father told him he could have it for $15 or for two cents a pound dressed. He wanted it killed and dressed, and paid $16.75 for just the quarters.

There was a company of regular soldiers stationed at Fort Gatlin. There was also a company of volunteers. We at that fort for 12 months before the trouble was over enough for us to scatter our homes.

There were plenty of varmits in the woods, such as bears, pumas, wolves and wildcats. We had nine bulldogs. I have seen seven wolves come right up in front of the house at two o’clock in the afternoon, when the sun was shining bright. One day they appeared thus and put their forefeet up on a log and stood there and snarled. Our dogs did not notice them. I saw three otters run through the woods in open daylight once. Father and Uncle Isaac Jernigan took their dogs one day and chased a tiger (better known as a puma) within the area of the house. The dogs finally treed it and it was shot. It measured nine feet from tip to tip. He had been eating our pigs and probably our calves. My father once killed a bear that we got eight gallons of oil from, and the meat was fine too.

We sold our best cattle to drovers who would drive them across country to Savannah or Charleston. One time mother sold Mr. Harvey Dudley 200 beef steers – eight year olds – for $15 a head. Father was away from home so mother attended to the business. Mr. Dudley sat down at the cow pen gate and paid mother the money and he must have had $50,000 left. Anyway, it was the most money I have ever seen at one time. He had his saddlebags stuffed full with it.

Orlando was woods and the deer and turkeys fed all about where the city now stands. The first little log house ever built in Orlando was built out of pine poles with the bark left on them. It was about 12 feet long and eight feet wide and one had to stoop to get in the door. There was a counter at one side and a few cigar boxes full of sand with candles stuck in the sand, which stood on the counter. A box of tobacco and a barrel of whisky stood in one corner. That was in 1850.

As for the life at the fort during the time so many people were penned up there, there was only one fight. It was between two old women; one had a butcher knife and the other a fire stick, but they did not get any closer than 20 or 30 feet of one another.

“Kendrick, Ken, Orlando: A Century Plus, Pages 6&7.”

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